Off the Wall, August 21,

I learned a new word recently – ‘selfie.’ Essentially, it is a self-portrait made with the use of these digital telephone mechanisms known as cell phones. It seems that people are so ‘stuck’ on themselves that they want to share pictures of themselves with or doing anything anywhere including some places I’m not going to mention, other than to say, when we grew up, these were considered ‘unmentionables.’

I’d often heard the term used here and there and never gave it much thought until I read in The Latrobe Bulletin a story where a lad was attempting to have a ‘selfie’ taken with a squirrel. It so happened after the flash went off from the cell phone, the squirrel got so scared that it jumped from where it was perched onto the person and hid under his shirt at such a place that the fellow could not reach it. Thinking how to get rid of the creature, he fell to the ground hoping the animal would once again become frightened and scamper away this hiding place to areas it was more familiar. It worked, much to the relief of the young man. It is hoped that both creatures of God learned lessons here. I know the guy did. Can’t speak for the squirrel. Haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve begun to psych out squirrels yet!

As is the case with many of us these days, when we are unsure as to the meaning of a word, we Google its definition. Pulling up ‘EVS Translations Blog website,’ I found that ‘Selfie’ was the word of the day. Following is what was stated:

‘The word selfie has been around since 2002 but only began to enjoy increasing popularity in the social media last year when the smart phones truly began to take over the mobile market in Europe and the United States.’

As always, I can’t keep up with this new generation of digitally inclined individuals, mainly youth, who can do the most amazing things with the push of a button on a small rectangular flat box. And to watch people texting and driving with an appendage hanging from either one of two ears held in place by one of two hands is a common sight. It is almost out of place not to see someone using a cell phone while driving. But I don’t want to talk about that now.

Something hit me after I read the story about the incident with the squirrel. It is the idea how people are furthering their desire to draw attention to self in what has become a desire to reach out to anybody as a means to state, “Hey look at me,” or worse yet, “Hey look at what I have,” may it be a tattoo, close friend, human or otherwise, or worse yet (and something I will not discuss) a certain body part.

That’s not to say all cell phone portrayals are selfies, for I received some great photos from family members lately and ones to treasure, at best. For instance, my son and daughter are now represented on my desktop, a wonderful picture taken of the both of them using a cell phone.

But the idea of ‘selfies’ are disturbing to me in as much as people feel it is so important to draw attention to themselves repeatedly. The ‘Me Generation’ has a warped sense of “Hey look at me,” as opposed to “Hey, what can I do for thee?” In my opinion, if people started thinking more about doing things entirely for others, there would be no need to even think of grasping for straws by putting pictures out into cyber space hoping that someone on the totem pole will cling on to the image and turn to the sender in a positive direction.

Someone might state that I am stereotyping – classifying all individuals into one category that everyone who portrays ‘selfies’ on cell phones are unstable persons. One has realize that I didn’t coin the word, someone else did. I am just the interpreter. As I see it, it only makes sense that a ‘selfie’ is one who is reaching out to call attention to himself – an egotist. Just a thought.

An individual showed me a cell to cell phone transmission of a young man who stirred her fancy, a fellow’s portrait. Was his picture a ‘selfie’? Not really. One could say, “It’s ‘cyberly correct’!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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